Our Letter of the Week Focus Wall Chart is such a fun way to review the alphabet daily! In this post, I will share with you what it looks like and how to use it. My kids in TK just adored it, and I know it would work equally well for students in PreK and Kindergarten. I really think can even out much of the differences in home support as well. In addition, a daily review time is well supported by research. You’ll find a link in the article.
What’s a Focus Wall?
If you’re unfamiliar with the term, a focus wall displays what your class is working on that week. But it’s not supposed to be only for the administrators to check off their list! 🤦🏻♀️ I used it daily to review our concepts of the week, such as the letter, number, shape, sight word, and eventually, the word family as well. I truly believe that taking a few minutes at the beginning of each day to review important concepts truly paid off in terms of student learning. I often saw children trying to remember an answer to a question by double-checking my focus wall, too!
Reviewing the concepts of the week with the focus wall usually took about ten minutes each day, and I always did it right after the flag salute. (It gets longer as you add more concepts, so at that point, you may want to rotate doing some only on certain days of the week when you have a bit more time.) To me, it seemed like one of the most valuable times of the day, and I worked hard to make it fun and active for the children. Click here to see an Instagram video of me doing this with my class!
Daily Review is Supported by Research!
There is a lot of research on the instructional value of daily review! You can check out one good article here (summarized and quoted below) or read the original research paper at the link after the quote.
“Neurophysiological studies show that one of the important components of learning is repetition or practice which helps to strengthen the connections of the wiring in the brain. This helps in retaining information or learning.”
Rosenshine, B. (2012). Principles of Instruction: Research-Based Strategies That All Teachers Should Know. American Educator, 36(Spr 2012), 12-19, 39. https://doi.org/https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ971753
But this is how I think of it:
A Focus Wall on a Whiteboard?
I (Heidi!) put all of my focus wall items on magnetized pocket charts on my classroom whiteboard at the last school where I worked. That is because there was a large whiteboard right in front of the classroom; in the past, I had stapled the pocket charts to the wall. Because there was a projector mounted on the ceiling and pointed towards the whiteboard, I asked the school to put a pull-down screen above the whiteboard, and I felt lucky that they were willing to do that! In the past, I had to purchase my own pull-down screen. I also liked being able to pull the pocket charts off quite easily if I wanted to use the board for something else.
1. A Plain Letter at the Top
Of course, the first thing to include is a plain letter right at the top. I think that it is important to separate the capital from the lowercase letter, just to avoid any confusion.
2. Alphabet Action Card
The second thing I added is the Alphabet Action card! For our existing HeidiSongs fans, you may already recognize that the artwork came right out of our Alphabet Action song! (There used to be a book, too- but we no longer sell physical items.)
Every card has an action for each letter. For example, for the letter A, we stomp on ants and say, “Ants!” and for the letter B, we say, “Boo!” The cards match up exactly with our very popular Alphabet Action song, which is in our Letters and Sounds collection, available on our HeidiSongs.tv Video Streaming Site!
3. Letter Formation Poem Cards
The next thing we added is Letter Formation Poem Cards! There is one for each capital, and one for each lowercase letter, with directional arrows on the letters. These Letter Formation Poem Cards may be used as just poems, and have the kids chant the words as they draw the letters in the air. OR, you can SING them as songs along with our Alphabet Formation Songs collection!
The cards are formatted in two ways: above, you see the cards with original HeidiSongs alphabet song lyrics on them (my favorites!) But, if you look at the letter b pocket chart above, you’ll see that it has the lyrics from the new Alphabet Formation (writing) songs. Either way, I used to put on the video, and we would sing along with it as part of our routine.
4. Beginning Sound Pictures
The next part of the Letter of the Week Focus Wall Chart is simply beginning sounds pictures. I included this because I think it is SO important for the kids to know a few words that start with a given letter sound. I put up six pictures that start with the target beginning sound. Then I have the kids all say, for example, “B like bag, B like basket, B like bed, B like bicycle, B like balloons, and B like BEE!!!!” And then we would all go “zzzzzzz” and pretend to fly around buzzing and then sting something imaginary, lol! I always tried to think of something fun to do with that last card. I just made it up, so go wild!
5. OPTIONAL: Letters to Review in Different Fonts
Sometimes, I added extra letters to review at the bottom of the chart. I only included the ones that we had already covered unless there was a “look-alike letter” (like the b vs d) that we needed to practice distinguishing it from the target letter. This does take extra time, so be aware of any attentional issues and how long you can keep your little ones’ attention.
And don’t forget, if you haven’t seen my Number of the Day/Week Focus Wall chart, be sure to take a look! It’s a super fun and active way to review the numbers each day! I will write another blog post on each of them.
And by the way, we also have a Shape of the Week Focus Wall chart! I love how it turned out. 🙂 There are different ways to post/use the pieces.
Hope this is all helpful as you get your classrooms ready! And if you prefer a digital option rather than printing, you can find it here.
– Heidi 🙂
P.S. Don’t forget all our videos are available to STREAM on our HeidiSongs.tv Video Streaming Site, FREE for the first 30 days! It’s an awesome way to bring some EASY, active learning to your students! Check out the info page on our website for more info!
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